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Business 

Eating Out

There seem to be about twenty cities, each of which claims to have the most restaurants per capita.  The statistical backing, if any, for these claims should be considered spotty or suspicious.  In any event, many city restaurants rely on travelers, commuters, and other non-residents to fill otherwise empty places in the dining area.  Take away its adjacent highway and the prospects for any Waffle House would be quite dismal!

Another way to look at restaurant numbers is by density.  How many restaurants are in a given geographical area?  For example, the Springfield-Greene County Library has five locations in Springfield.  Using our subscription database, Reference USA Business, it can be determined that within 1.5 radial miles, our Brentwood branch has 87 restaurants.  On the other hand, the Library Station has only 36 restaurants within that distance.  (The remaining branches:  Park Central, with 70 restaurants; Midtown Carnegie, with 68; and the Library Center with 54.)

When does an area have too many restaurants?  Sheer numbers don't tell the story.  Since each restaurant will usually try to develop its own niche, focus, clientele, following, etc., perhaps the question should be:  how many restaurants of a particular description can an area sustain?  However, the country as whole simply has too many restaurants, say insiders.  An industry consultant predicts that 20,000 restaurants will close in the next three years.  "I think 20,000 is a minimum," he said.  "We probably need more than that.  There are a lot of marginal players out there."  According to Moody's Bottom Rung list of companies prone to default, Arby's, Captain D's (Sagittarius Restaurants), Krispy Kreme, Outback (OSI Restaurant Partners), Perkins, and Sbarro may be among the casualties.  More typical, perhaps, will be the demise of smaller fry such as City Lobster & Steak; eleven years in operation; it specialized in business lunches, but was done in by half a million dollars in debt owed to more than fifty creditors and the relegation of the expense-account lunch to the endangered species list


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